Today I’d like to welcome Jay Norry, fantasy author of the Walking Between Worlds trilogy and a spiritual autobiography, Stumbling Backasswards Into the Light.
Can you give us your quickest description of your books?
My first book was a spiritual autobiography, a look at the questions I needed to answer to live happily and the answers I found. It is aptly titled Stumbling Backasswards Into the Light. It is a light, uplifting read.
My other books are philosophical fantasy, a trilogy entitled Walking Between Worlds. It’s a pretty epic adventure story with demons and angels and a supernatural army of men and women who help humans battle their personal demons. As the books go on, the story grows in both breadth and depth to explore new characters and new realms. A variety of personalities wrestle with timeless questions to find their own answers in an unfamiliar framework. Deep bonds of friendship and love hold the story and its characters together, a desperate search for answers drives it forward, philosophical and psychological exploration ties it all together a bit on the surface and completely underneath, and somewhere in all of this there is something for nearly everyone.
I love the title of your first book. Your trilogy sounds really interesting. There’s a lot out there about angels and demons, but this sounds like it has a twist to all the usual elements. What gave you this unique idea for the trilogy?
The first time that I read a story where there was some question as to who was the clear good guy and who was the clear bad guy, I’ll bet my little brain just lit up. I have always been a bit obsessed with the fact that perspective changes everything. Shop owners must have hated Superman: “Stop toying with the villain! I don’t have alien insurance!” Gandhi had at least one hater out there, wishing he would just eat a little rice so we could all get back to our war-torn lives.
It was easy to see how people create their own demons, how they feed them and how they fight them. It was also easy to see that blaming a clear antagonist for the troubles of the obvious protagonist would not have suited this story or this complex cast of characters at all. If there is one over-arching theme to this trilogy, it is the theme of personal responsibility. What if the demons that plague us are our creation? What if they are a part of us that only we can deal with? What if our demons save us from our own darkness, should we learn to dance with them? And what if when things get really bad, a good-hearted super-powered immortal shows up with a sword to help you deal with your demon once and for all?
What are you working on currently?
Right now, I am working on the third and final installment in the Walking Between Worlds trilogy. I have written the first draft, and the next several weeks I will be in edit mode while my partner puts together pretty much everything else. We are on schedule to release Walking Between Worlds; Book III: Fall of the Walker King on December 1st, 2015. It will be available in both print and ebook format, as are all of my other books.
(Psst, Readers: Walking Between Worlds, Book III is out now and can be found HERE.) Any future books you’ll be working on?
When I say there is a score of books waiting for me to write them, as I am wont to do, I am rounding down. There was a story talent show going on in my head as I began to plan ahead for 2016. I am proud to announce that there was a clear winner, for a variety of reasons that mostly have to do with time in one way or another. It will be philosophical fantasy, my new favorite genre, but it will surely be categorized as horror. It’s another story that drips blood and evil while exploring the possibility that evil always comes from a good place. The tentative title is “Zombie Zero”, and it will hopefully release sometime in the summer of 2016.
Ooh, interesting. What is one bit of advice you’d like to share with writers?
I don’t know about other writers, but one of the most important things I have learned is making time to write. If you’ve got something to say, you likely have a great many things to do as well. Those things are important: they have made you who you are and brought you to the place where you are bursting with whatever it is you need to say. Now those things need to be set aside and prioritized behind your writing routine. If your writing doesn’t come first, you don’t come first; and if you’re not putting yourself in front of it all, you can’t possibly expect it to come together. Make the time to write every day, and have the discipline to stick to it. I remind myself on the rare day that I do not write that today I am not a writer, and that I am the only person who can make sure that tomorrow I am.
That’s a very interesting point. I know telling myself “today I am not a writer” would kick me into gear. Do you think it’s okay to have some days where you just aren’t a writer but do other things?
When I’ve finished writing a thousand to three thousand words every day for two or three weeks, I start to frame things people say in quotation marks as they say them. I put “he said, annoyed” or “she murmured softly” behind the quotation marks in my head and narrate the scene rather than experience it fully.
That’s when I take time off, but not more than a day or two. Writing is more important to me than food, as my rumbling stomach can attest to just about any Saturday morning around nine or ten. A couple days away from it, and the part of me that I most strongly identify with starts to waste away for lack of nourishment.
In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
I would be pretty pleased to see the Walking Between Worlds trilogy made into a movie or television series. There are only a few characters that I would feel pretty strongly about casting with the right actors. I do mention that Brenna looks just like Kristen Kruek in Book I, and I really can’t see her any other way. Danny Trejo would be a perfect Roche, which I knew from the beginning. I would like to see Jared Leto as a Walker, with that long cold immortal look in his eyes; I see him as William, although that means he doesn’t appear until Book II. He could play Paul pretty effectively if he wanted to; maybe that way we could score much of the movies with Thirty Seconds to Mars tunes . . .
Ha! Great soundtrack idea. Yes, Jared Leto can be quite captivating/haunting onscreen. Did you always have Kristen Kruek in mind from the creation of the character, since you mention it in Book 1? Do you find yourself writing with her voice, mannerisms, etc. in mind?
The resemblance between Brenna in Book I and Kristen Kruek in the roles I have seen her in ends with the physical. That being said, I can see her having the chops to pull off Brenna. Her character goes through a pretty stunning series of transformations as the story progresses, and I would love to see Ms. Kruek both in make-up and in costume. The long and the short of it is this, though: when I closed my eyes and saw my cast of characters, I was surprised to see that one looked just like an actress. I felt I had to mention it.
That is interesting. When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?
I don’t often get stuck when I write, but I suspect that might be in part due to the fact that I don’t write full-time. There are many hours of work that need to get done each day before I seize my two to four hours of writing time, and I’m turning phrases and ideas in my overactive mind the whole time. By the time I hit the blank pages, I’m full of content and hitting on all eight cylinders. But some days . . . well, some days I can’t see what I need to see to write it. The voices in my head are silent, or argumentative, and that’s okay. There’s always editing to do, outlining for the next book, blogs to write and journalling. And if I just don’t feel like putting pencil or pen to paper, or touching my fingertips to a keyboard, I’ll build something or take my girl somewhere fun or meditate for a while. Chances are when I take my mind off pushing the writing along it will start to flow abundantly again.
That is an excellent point about always having other writer-ish things to do. I think a lot of us get stuck in writing and just step away from everything involved in the process. Editing, outlining, blogging – doing any of that probably helps to keep moving forward, in a way. You mentioned building something. Slightly off topic maybe, but what things do you build?
We moved into a new house about a year ago. The list of things I plan on building here is as long as my list of novels to write, but several have already been checked off. One of the reasons we moved here, just north of Sacramento, was so we could garden all year long. I had kale and lettuce and broccoli in the ground right away . . . and they got eaten right away. Apparently wild rabbits roam the area, and they like the same food we do. After a couple of trips to the hardware store and a few days sweating in the hot sun, I had built us a PVC hoop house that was ten feet wide and forty feet long. With chicken wire wrapped around the pipe on the ground, and both of them buried six inches in the dirt, we grew tomatoes and kale and squash and potatoes and lettuce all summer without feeding any wild rabbits.
When the summer got too hot to write on the porch, I sectioned off a part of my shop. I built two walls and some shelving, painted the room and installed an air conditioner. And when the neighbors wanted some tall bamboo cut down so there were be some sunlight in their back yard, I volunteered to do it in exchange for the bamboo. The next weekend I built a tiki hut off our side porch with it. And when . . . oh, you get the idea.
Thanks, Jay, for sharing!